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Ask Max: What Mac should I buy to move away from a PC laptop?

Asked on 04/17/2007:

I am retired from (over six years) print shop prep-department. I used the latest versions of Mac and software to do my work, and I loved working with them. Since then I have been using a Dell laptop and hating how hard everything is to use. Lately I have gotten into digital photography and find the Dell a real pain in the neck compared to the Mac I used at work. My question is, what kind of Mac should I be looking for (remember I am retired)? Will I be able to run software I have for the Dell? Do they have built in Flash Card ports? Will I be able to get my jpeg photos off the CDs I burned with the Dell? I was thinking of getting a cut down version of Print Shop will this run on any Mac? Will my older HP printer with USB run with the Mac or do I have to update that also? We still have dial-up, and will have for a while, does the Mac have a built in modem or do I/can I get an add on. I am sure I missed something important to ask, if so what was it?


You have quite a few questions that can take you in many different directions. If cost were not a concern I would recommend a MacBook, which could run your old PC software through Parallels and still keep you doing most of your work in the Mac OS. You would particularly enjoy using iPhoto or Aperture for your photography. However, price is almost always a concern for people, so a Refurbished or Previously Owned G4 laptop would be a great option. The entry level MacBook could be in your budget so it is worth a look, but otherwise focus on any G4 portable with a processor over 1.25 GHz.

Moving over your photos and other files will be easy and should not pose any compatibility problems. Your photo CDs will be read just fine and other data files are going to be compatible. Your old programs will not work on a G4 Mac so you may have to buy Mac versions of the same program, but often a Mac will come preinstalled with replacement software that works better than what you have on the Dell. Your HP USB printer should work fine on the Mac and may even have built-in support. Most older Macs will come with dialup modems, but the new Intel Macs require you to buy a USB modem. I would recommend buying an AirPort Extreme wireless base station instead. It will allow you to connect to the internet with your dialup connection, but your laptop will not have to be tethered to a phone cable when online. Other computers will be able to use the same dialup connection at the same time as you and your USB printer can connect directly to the base station. That would let you print from any room in your house, wirelessly.

That should get you back to the Mac.

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